Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight: Karla Hudson

<p>Karla Hudson | Submitted</p>

Karla Hudson | Submitted

Get to know the community of Western Springs with our Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight feature!

This week, we meet Karla Hudson of Western Springs who originally attended Children's Theatre classes in the 1970's and then became an adult Active member in 2003.

Q. How did you find out about TWS?

A. I’ve never known my life without TWS! I grew up going there to see my dad, an Active Laureate who joined in 1961 and trained with founder Mary Cattell, act in various plays. We kids used to run around and explore the props room which was like "grandma's attic" with treasures galore.

Q. Why did you join TWS? 

A. Well, all I had to do was ask my dad about being on a crew and the next thing I knew, I was a member. It all happened so fast. I've found it's a great way to stay active during the cold winter months (keeps me out of hibernation-mode).

Q. Go back in time. When did you discover you had an interest in theatre/drama?

A. My cousin and I would act out little plays from a book someone had given me for a birthday gift. I think I have a photo of me as a witch "melting" into the living room floor. And then I was frequently cast in grade school plays such as "The Emperor's New Clothes" in which I played the Prime Minister. As a senior in high school I did a one-person play where I acted out the book "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.

Q. At TWS, do you work on crews, backstage and/or front of house?

A. I like to work backstage on props, costumes or lights crews.

Q. At TWS, do you act on stage? Name some roles. 

A. The last time I formally acted was in Children's Theatre, where I played a wizard in "A Wizard at Odds," Injun Joe in "Tom Sawyer," Mole in "Wind in the Willows," and Gander in "Charlotte's Web." I still wonder how I remembered all of those lines and cues. Even though I don't act now, I still get a thrill if I have to go onstage as a props person during a performance to move a prop or piece of furniture. Once I had to sneak onstage in black-out to remove ceramic Indians from the mantel in "Twelve Little Indians" without anyone seeing me. For "The Quick Change Room" I had to crawl out and retrieve loose articles of clothing from onstage before we were cued to pull a large rolling platform back for the finale. It was always a jolt of adrenaline, but I pulled it off.

Q. What do you love about TWS? What is it about TWS that motivates you? 

A. I really enjoy meeting folks from all walks of life. Overall, it is a well-rounded group and is easily expanded with new members coming into the fold. Also, the theatre provides a creative outlet for me. I can use my skills to create or modify a prop to fit the play. I have fabricated specific out-of-print books, a rare stamp book, fake food and many other props. (In fact, I'm looking to borrow a circa 1950s boy’s bike for an upcoming play...). I enjoy problem-solving to make a prop or costume "work" for the production. I don't like last-minute changes from the director, but that keeps me on my toes, too. People are story-tellers by nature. We need to tell stories to make sense of life, to make a point or to make fun of ourselves. I always say that it can be a bad play but as long as it provokes conversation, it's a good thing.

Q. TWS has flourished for 85 years. Are there traditions at TWS that you value?

A. I really enjoy our "Sandwich Sundays." This is a time when the families and significant others of the actors and crew are invited to come watch a play in its final preparations and stay for a meal afterwards. It originally was designed as a way to thank families for giving up their time with the actors/crew, so they could devote the many hours, days and weeks to preparing for the production. In the old days we would actually bring sandwiches and sometimes a dish to share. It is always good to break bread together, so I usually sign up to work on those days just for that benefit.

Q. Tell about something at TWS that was, is, or will be a really big thrill for you. 

A. The best part about being involved in TWS is that it’s an activity that I can share with my dad. We usually co-chair a props crew for one production a year. I think we're a good team, as I bring organization, and he brings the experience of the theatre. This is something no one else in my family gets, and I feel blessed to have this time with him.

Q. List three things you have given TWS.

A. My time, my talents and my support.

Q. List three things TWS has given you.

A. Time with my dad, a creative outlet and friends.

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